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TipSheet: Travis County, 10.13.15

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 by Caleb Pritchard

The Travis County Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday. In the interest of space, we’ve decided not to post the entire agenda here. The County Clerk’s office hosts a copy at its website.

4. Consider and take appropriate action regarding the possible use of existing Medical Examiner’s building for a Sobriety Center and an Austin Police Department substation, and direct Facilities Management Department to prepare a cost estimate for the renovation, maintenance and operations of the Sobriety Center and Austin Police Department substation. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: After Austin City Council voted last week to move forward with the county to establish a drunk tank, the ball is back in the Commissioners Court. With this item, they’ll instruct the Facilities Management Department to put together an estimate on what it could cost to convert the Medical Examiner’s building on Sabine Street into the so-called sobriety center (the ME’s Office is set to move into new digs in northeast Austin in 2017).

6. Consider and take appropriate action on formation of a committee charged with studying and making recommendations on criminal indigent defense fees paid to appointed attorneys. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: In June, the head of the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association asked the commissioners to increase the fees that the county pays to attorneys who represent indigent clients. The commissioners asked staff to take a closer look at the fee structure and come back with a recommendation, which appears to be the creation of a committee made up of judges and lawyers. Per the backup, the committee will have until the end of next January to prepare its findings.

19. Consider and take appropriate action regarding License Agreement for Violet Crown Sports Association to hold a bike race at Webberville Park. (Commissioner Davis)

Monitor’s Take: Similar to an item the commissioners approved last week, this vote is on the license for a cyclocross race at a county park. In case you missed it, a cyclocross race at Austin’s Zilker Park earlier this year created a huge outcry over the potential harm it posed to dozens of trees. Seemingly anticipating that concern, the backup material for this item explicitly mentions vetting of the course by the Travis County Forester and the declaration that no trees will be adversely affected.

34. Consider and take appropriate action to approve order to correct a typographical error in the order levying taxes for the Travis County Healthcare District DBA Central Health. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: This item should give Travis County’s property owners a brand new respect for the lowly copy editor. According to a memorandum from CEO Patricia Young Brown, the order approved by the commissioners court that set Central Health’s new tax rate last week contained a typo minor in size but major in implication. Instead of a tax rate of $0.117781 per $100 of valuation, the commissioners inadvertently gave the thumbs up to a rate of $1.117781 per $100 of valuation. The commissioners will issue a nunc pro tunc order that will retroactively correct the error.

38. Consider and take appropriate action regarding possible legal action against Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., for violations of the Texas Clean Air Act. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: It appears that Travis County could add its weight to Volkswagen’s legal load. The German automaker has been in hot water since a scandal involving cheated emissions tests emerged three weeks ago. There’s no indication about what possible legal action the county could take, and this item will be discussed in executive session away from prying ears and eyes.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Travis County Commissioners Court: The legislative body for Travis County. It includes representatives from the four Travis County Precincts, as well as the County Judge. The County Judge serves as the chair of the Court.

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